A suspicious man wearing all black, including a hat and sunglasses, entered Opera Gallery in Aspen and, using either a knife or a razor blade, attacked a Christopher Wool painting before fleeing the scene, Jason Auslander of the Aspen Times reports.
Dealer Gregory Lahmi said the $3 million painting, Untitled, 2004, was destroyed. According to a gallery assistant who witnessed the crime, the man was alone and was inside the gallery for only about fifteen seconds. As he walked into the space, he put a block of wood in the doorjamb to prevent the door from closing, and then he went straight toward the painting and slashed it.
“It’s crazy,” Lahmi said. “First of all, I’m shocked for the work of the artist. It’s ugly to do that to a painting.” While Lahmi does not know the motivation behind the vandalism, he said he received three bizarre phone calls from a man inquiring about Wool paintings in the weeks leading up to the incident.
Aspen police confirmed that they believe the crime was premeditated. “On its face, it’s extremely suspicious,” Aspen police detective Jeff Fain said. “There has to be a reason someone would want to destroy this painting.”